21 years ago the first band I ever went to go see was the Inspiral Carpets so it was a real treat for me to get to spend an hour with the band before they went on stage at The Leadmill to play a triumphant comeback show with original front man Stephen Holt who’s ushered in a return to the bands roots, a darker,gritty,punky feel to the tunes we all know and love.
Catching Craig Gill, Clint Boon as well as Stephen Holt- this is what the lads had to say.
LTW– Sheffield tonight and the First Inspiral’s UK gig
Clint– Well we had a tour lined up that kicks off in Bristol in a couple of weeks but then the people at The Leadmill asked us to play so its turned into the 1st UK gig, then it dawned on us a couple of days later that back in 85/86 when we were an Oldham band, playing in Manchester, that one of our first gigs outside of that area was in Sheffield. Then in 2003 when we got back together after a 9year break, which was a special moment for us and again it was in Sheffield, at the Octagon and then of course this tonight, another big moment for us in Sheffield so even though its just over the hills from where we live it seems to have a special affinity for us this place.Never had any bad memories here, its always been a great music town even when it was going through bad times, Industrially, which it was 85/86 and honestly you could feel the gloom as soon as you came off the Snake pass, you could almost feel this sort of ominous vibe
and Ive been coming over here on a monthly basis since then, DJ’n plus I’ve done a lot of work with Red Tape Studios making videos, educational stuff and I had a manager from Sheffield but through the years I’ve seen it develop from a city on its arse to what it is now which is a world class city but all through that you’ve had amazing music that came out the place so you’ve always had this real progressive attitude towards the music scene in the city.
LTW– is it right that you went over to the Farfisa factory in Italy to build a custom made keyboard Clint.
Clint- (laughs), yeah, I think someone joking on Twitter said I went to Italy, but I really like the idea I went to see Farfisa about building my new set up so we’ll go with that, it’s a great story but what I’ve really done is built my ideal keyboard set up using modern technology and when you see it- it looks like a Farfisa and sounds like a Farfisa but Ive put a lot of extra things with it which I wouldn’t of been able to do with my old set up. It’s portable as well unlike the keyboard I used originally with the band
LTW– tonight’s the first UK gig on this tour but the first show was in Argentina, what was that like.
Craig- Yes it was, first gig back for 3 years and Stephens first gig back for 23 years or so, Steve’s last gig with us was in a cricket club in London to 20 people, then his come back gig was to 7000 people in Argentina supporting Interpol, and he didn’t even seem nervous
Stephen- it just felt right, it felt like I’d been doing it for years and years, like I’d never been away from them.
Craig- I think it was good as well to go and get that first gig under our belts as opposed to the talk of us doing a secret show at the Salford lads club but it’s hard to do that these days and I guess there would of been quite a lot of people coming down to check the line up out, you know, compare the singer now to the old one and all that so it was great to go out there and do that. Then after that we did a club show then on to the Bizarre Fest in Chile…playing in the middle of a fucking racecourse..(laughs)
Clint- The way it all come about was even when we’ve not done anything for years, like we’ve been out of action for something like 4 years but every day, every week offers come in for the band to play, like to play a gig in Bournemouth or even Israel or Bolivia, but because we’ve not been active we’ve just said “thanks, but sorry were not doing anything right now” but then as soon as we started working with Steve this offer came in to play the Festival in Chile and what a great way to relaunch the band in South America, so we got onto an agent we’d worked with and asked him to get us more gigs down there and he padded it out to a cool little 3 day tour. It’s a great example of these little accidents that happen around the band, it looks like an amazing come back, getting our garage band back together again and going to Argentina and playing to 7000 people,…and thinking about all the kudos with that, it was just a fucking accident…(laughs)
LTW- The band played S America back in the early 90’s so did you have any links out there still
Clint- we had our Argentinian roadie out there with us, Federico, he even gave his job up to help us out, and he actually looks a lot like Noel Gallagher as well believe it or not.
Craig- I Initially met him through the music tours, he messaged me telling me he and some others were coming over for an Oasis tour.
Clint- Do you know why so popular in Argentina, because in the early 90’s we went over twice when most British bands weren’t bothering going over as it was not long after the Falklands war and it was quite hard to get too so because we went out there twice the fans made a big deal of it, there weren’t any other Manchester bands going over there at the time.
Craig– We played Uruguay on my 19th birthday then two days later we played the River Plate stadium with Paul Simon and Noel actually played there with Oasis in 2009 and before he came back on to do his encore he said “I was here 20 years ago as a roadie for The Inspiral carpets and it’s really emotional for me to be back playing for you tonight” then went into ‘don’t look back in anger’, all on the same stage as we played on.
Noel Gallagher, River Plate, Inspiral’s comment…Don’t Look Back in Anger
LTW- Playing S,America at 19 Craig you really were quite younger than the rest of the band weren’t you, when did you start drumming and join the group
Craig- Started drumming about 6 months / a year at most before I joined the band, I’d never met Clint but I was aware of him from watching a band called T’Challa Grid (seminal Oldham band Clint manged) and Chris Goodwin was the drummer in the Inspiral’s before me, he was playing with T’Challa Grid because they were tipped to be the next big thing so Chris was just helping the Inspiral’s out on the drums as a favour, so one day I met Graham in a car park and Chris hadn’t turned up and I said I could play, so I ran home to get my drum kit and when I got back they were packing up and one of them said “rained off, its been rained off”
though it was probably because they thought who’s this young nutter, he doesn’t even know the songs but they must of liked my enthusiasm, so then I did a rehearsal with them, 2 songs in Graham said “right we’ve got a gig at the Boardwalk next Thursday”
Clint- I had a van and was just the mate helping them out, drove them to this gig and Chris couldn’t make it but Craig turns up saying he’s a drummer and then went home for his kit, it was about a week or two after that he joined the band then I joined after that, he would of been about 14 and I was 26
LTW- I bet you being younger than the rest of the band made it quite interesting in those early days, especially musically
Craig- Yeah, it was good because round about that time a lot of the indie-music about was a bit fay, I liked The Smiths and New Order and that but for me the cutting edge music coming out at that time was The Beastie Boys, NWA and Public Enemy and I was like ‘you want to listen to this’, it was like alien music to them but they’d be like ‘check this out’ with all these garage bands so we had that going on in the band which was great because we could of been a total revivalist band or if we were all 18 we would of been trying to make hip hop, but we had that mix.
Playing that Mondays gig in 87 and I was still probably at school then and then later on in the year we supported the Roses and after the gig went back to Reni’s house in Longsight for a party and Reni and his house mates were just buzzing because they couldn’t believe my age, because the kids at school my age weren’t into music, busy playing with their train sets and that and I couldn’t relate to them so I always knocked about with the older lads because they were into their music.
Clint- There were a lot of great bands we loved that fell by the way side and that’s because they were all,…like me, 4 or 5 Clint’s with haircuts, Birdland, the Prisoners, Plain Jayne’s totally psychedelic or what ever but we had the advantage of a 14 year old kid listening to beat music so with that as our back bone for our psychedelic music made us one of the most contemporary bands for the next 10years, and it was the same happening with the Mondays, they were the same into all their funk music but they had this street creditably that was bang on top, the drugs, clothes and all that so they were a contemporary and retro band at the same time, The Stone Roses, the same again, they were like Simon and Garfunkel sonically, you know what I mean but again right on it with that total appreciation of the history of music right up to the minute so that’s why we all have the same mix of retro and contemporary.
LTW- So what did you get up to musically in that 23 year gap Stephen
Stephen- When I decided to leave the Inspiral’s I started a band with a few other people in Manchester bands, Swifty who was in The Inspiral Carpets as well John Roland who was in the Bodines and a guy who was in Turning Blue, so we all got together and started doing stuff, but that was back then, since then I’ve been involved in a few different things.
LTW- Was it just one of those things when Stephen left, as it was still quite early in your careers wasn’t it
Clint- Things like that peoples memories are all ways different and the story becomes different to each others, the way I remember it in terms of the split as it being very amicable, we all had jobs back then and we were all about to sack our jobs off to go full time, though we weren’t making any money we were doing London sessions and things were starting to happen and we decided to take that leap and into the world of paying ourselves ÃÂ£10 a week and Steve had a lot more commitments than us and was about to get married and I saw it as he needed to the security of his day job and that’s when he left, it wasn’t a fall out though, he just went off to what he wanted to do.
Craig- Back then I was on a YTS learning how to be a car mechanic but all I was doing was valeting cars so I it was like ‘how do you have to think twice about leaving a job that paid about ÃÂ£20 a week’, you couldn’t just sign-on back then because Thatcher had this thing that you had to do a 2 year course before you could sign on, and because my dad had been a musician he said ‘yeah, what ever, we’ll support you if you want to go do that.
LTW- Everyone in the band seems well into this punky version of the group with Stephen singing again
Clint- We never denounced what we did with Tom, we did a lot of great work and a lot of it is due to him and we never put that down but to be given the chance with Tom Leaving,to go back and explore a real solid relevant part of our history which were doing, it’s some thing that not a lot of bands get to do. Technically Tom was an amazing singer but he didn’t have the Soul, and this might sound bad in print but he didn’t have the kind of soul that people like Shaun Ryder had, that Ian Brown had, people who were technically shit but have all that soul and a lot of spirit, what Tom had was this amazing virtuoso, almost operatic, technically pitch perfect, great vibrato, but he didn’t have that street spirit.
Craig- He had a fantastic voice but if you look at it not all the people who you’d call the best singers like the Ian Curtis’s and the Bob Dylan’s didn’t have the best voices, they just had some thing really distinctive about them. what a lot of people aren’t aware of is the amount of material we did with Steve back in the day like with Dung 4 selling 7000 copies and about 2 albums worth of material so he deserves his moment in the spot light for the work he’s put into the band from 1983, which was about 2 years before I joined.
Stephen- If you think about what everyone does because were not kinda, say all the best instrumentalists in the world but what we do and how we put it together is brilliant, everyone just works really well together and it just comes out great so it doesn’t matter if were not the best musicians or what ever, its how it feels.
LTW- the single, “Your So Good For Me” sounding full on Inspiral’s to me, but more punky than poppy maybe?
Craig- Yeah, we’ve had a few people saying it has a Joy Division feel to it, you know, its funny because when I’ve looked back in my little scrap book at the early reviews, all the reviews before Clint joined said we sounded like a rough version of Joy Division and the reviews after they said we sounded like The Doors and that Joy Division thing never cropped up again, and now its back.
Clint- Martin wrote the track because he’s got a little dance project he does on the side so he already had it lined up as some thing he put together, it was actually as a dance song initially and we all liked it, the song, the arrangement, so we said lets take it and play it as a garage tune and see if it works, and it did.
Me personally I wanted it to sound like the retro Inspiral’s because we could of come in with modern synth’s like a lot of the other bands are doing but we were like ‘fuck it’, its Farfisa and its Steve’s singing in his style, its fast and its up beat, it sounded right.
It only took us a couple of hours to record it because it’s a garage record so it was pretty simple to get down.
LTW- Wanted to ask about the Manchester tours Craig, you’ve really built it up over the time, is it some thing you enjoy doing
Craig- I love it, I never get tired of going to places like Salford lads club, the way its been resorted and everything, they actually have everyone’s membership card of everyone who has ever been there like Graham Nash, how much he paid in subs, when he went camping, where he lived and others like Albert Finney, an amazing place, the walking tours are quite personal really, the buildings are just back drops because its the stories behind them that’s the thing, and yeah it keeps me busy and the average is about 3 a week but September for example I did 24 tours doing 3 a day and turning tours down. There’s all sorts of tours and I’ve done them for a range of people like for Sony when Oasis greatest hits came out which were won through competitions and the same for UTD for the Nike bosses over from Portland Oregon, so there’s all sorts, corporate and the fan tours are both great to do.
Some time after I’d started the tours the TV comedy Shameless had these scenes where the lad with the pink Limo was taking these people on a music tour round Manchester giving them E’s in the back of the car so by the time they get to Salford Lads Club they’re all off their heads, they were getting people to dress up like Morrissey so this guy comes out with a bunch of flowers coming out of the corner shop and the lad driving says there’s Morrissey and they’re all off their heads saying “is it Morrissey, it is isn’t it” and then Shaun Ryder appears, its actually Shaun, stood there on the street corner and Micky McGuire who’s driving, looks at him and says “What you looking at ya dick head” (laughs)…but the guy who was doing the tours actually had a T-shirt on that read ‘Manchester Music Tours’ and at the time I didn’t think too much of it but its become part of the Shameless thing and the name of the episode so I spoke to our lawyer and he said you’ve definitely got a case if you want to take it, with them taking drugs and maybe discrediting to your business but its not an angle I want to go down you know, though it is quite funny.
LTW- everyone one in the group seems really excited doing this again don’t they…
Craig- Yeah, definitely, not just the playing live but the camaraderie with these guys, its such a good laugh, just to get away is some thing because Clint’s the busiest person I know, he’s got such a busy life and family life so when you get away you all come back together again its great, like Clint will be like ‘great, I’ve got a few hours here” and work on his keyboard or PC or what ever, it gives us time as a band which we love, especially now because were not pressured by any record company saying you’ve got to do this or that, we just do it as and when we want, tours as long as we want and play places where were accepted and hopefully we’ll get to those places like Australia and America if people want it, its very enjoyable and its like the early days again with our original singer, rehearsing at night 3 or 4 times a week and the studio in the afternoon, that’s just how the band started.